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Prof Bryan Schwartz

 
U of M Prof Bryan Schwartz : The Exclusion of Jews from Higher Learning-Jews now considered to be White, Privileged, Less Desirable Applicants

by Rhonda Spivak, January 28, 2024

 
 
Prof Bryan Schwartz, a law professor in the field of international and human rights law at the University of Manitoba says that we are witnessing conditions on universities which are going to make it highly unlikely for pro-Israel Jews to be hired as university faculty now and in the future. These conditions will also make it less likely that in the future  Jews will be able to get accepted into a variety of faculties, since according to the ideology of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” increasingly prevalent on university campuses, Jews are considered to be “white” and “ privileged,” and thus will be less desirable applicants.

Speaking  before a crowd of some 150 people in December at an event sponsored by B’nai Brith, Friends of Israel, and Bridges for Peace, Schwartz stated, "A university is supposed to be a place where you enter on the basis of your individual talent and your commitment to study and your excellence in scholarship. It is only under those conditions that Jews have been able to thrive...Those are not the current conditions. The current conditions are move away from enlightenment values, away from everybody is equal as an individual, away from tolerance of viewpoint diversity."
 

Schwartz explained, that under current conditions, “no one gets to participate and get a job at a university and thrive at a university unless they  belong to the ideology of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).” Increasingly,  "to be hired by a university or be accepted as a student in a faculty you have to sign a DEI statement,” But, according to Schwartz “ If you happen to think that Jews have the same right to self-determination as everyone else, that is not a career-enhancing position to take. It may, in fact, be disqualifying.” 

 

Schwartz emphasized that “According to the ideology of "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” Jews at best don’t count. At worst, Jews are white, Jews are privileged, Jews are part of the structure of white hegemony.  He noted that Jews  you can get away with being an anti-Zionist Jew, or being “of Jewish extraction", but if you say you are a Jew who supports Israel , “it doesn’t’ help you, and may, in fact, be disqualifying.”

 

Schwartz indicated that “I don’t consider myself white; I consider myself Jewish. And the Nazis did not think I was white enough. In the state of Israel, there are more Jews of Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian ancestry than there are Jews from Europe…More of them were ethnically cleansed from the surrounding Arab and Islamic community than the survivors of Europe.”

 

Schwartz said that  the notion that  Israel is a settler colonialist state is false. He stated it  is increasingly common for anti-Israel professors to claim survivors of Europe are white and are  a continuation of European settler domination. "Well, how come they chose the national language of Israel to be Hebrew, not German, not Polish, not English? Because they were escaping from Europe; because they were the Indigenous people of Israel seeking to re-establish themselves. And by the way, many Jews in Israel are descendants of people who never left. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for 3,000 years or more.”

 

Unfortunately, he said increasingly on university campuses there is not an “ an atmosphere where students could hear different points of view” in regard to  Israel.

 

As Schwartz said, “Whatever happened to the enlightenment ideal that first and foremost, as Martin Luther King said, we judge people by the content if their character not the color of their skin? So, it is not helpful to be Jewish anymore, but you can be portrayed, caricatured, dismissed as part of the rich folks, the privileged folks, the white folks. Everyone has a right to self-determination except the Jews because that’s toxic. That is the ideology of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” It is an ideology which is increasingly hostile to Jewish students, Jewish faculty and has a “contemptuous attitude towards the Jewish homeland.” Schwartz said the DEI viewpoint is “very popular and career enhancing.”

 

Schwartz pointed out that  Jews make up only 0.2% of the world population, and are “ a dwindling percentage of the Canadian population.”  He added “ You can win a Canadian election without supporting Israel, “ and “it is a myth that Jews are powerful.” Jewish people have been very accomplished but never particularly powerful.

On the subject of Jewish donors to University who are seeking to improve the conditions of humanity, Schwartz stated “I have no question about the good faith of Jewish donors who have given to universities in the belief that it’s a place where there’s intellectual pluralism...".But, Schwartz indicated  many Jewish donors have not yet figured  out what’s actually going on in the universities. "You went to a university, you were a successful... Do you think your grandson or granddaughter is going to be able to pass a DEI ideological litmus test?” He suggested that as increasingly Jews have to sign a “DEI statement,” it won’t help to say “I went to a Jewish summer camp, I volunteered in Israel for some good cause. I’ve got to admit, my family’s fairly prosperous.” Schwartz concluded "our grandchildren are not going to thrive in the same way we thrived at universities."

 

Schwartz who has written a recent book  ReEnlightening Canada recommends that “Jewish donors should only give to a university that is a Free University, "which  means that they believe in free speech, that they hire on the basis of academic excellence and not ideological conformity (such that DEI statements do not need to be signed), and in which Jewish students,like any students,  can feel comfortable learning and not living in a hostile and demeaning environment.”  He continued that universities that require DEI statements, will do just fine without Jewish donations. Anybody that thinks that the leverage that Jewish donors have will decisively turn the tide, I think, are mistaken:”

 

In his book, Schwartz  proposes a number of ways in which legislatures could re-insert enlightenment values.He recommends that “ Freedom of speech should be guaranteed in our human rights codes just like individual equality. Individual equality should be primary thrust of anti-discrimination laws, not guaranteeing equality of group outcomes.”

 

Schwartz pointed out he went into academia largely because he thought it was an environment in which there would be a free play of ideas, and would freely be able to express himself. “It’s not a safe environment to do that. It’s a safe environment to follow the official prevailing doctrine. And increasingly, if you don’t want to play the game, you’re not going to get in the game in the first place." As Schwartz pointed out, the Manitoba Human Rights Code should  be amended to include  freedom of speech as a fundamental human right, which it currently does not even mention. "I should have an officer at the University of Manitoba who protects my freedom of speech. We don’t.”

 

”In practice, what free speech means at the university is that you have the freedom to denounce Israel. At the same time, if you are on the woke side, you should never be criticized.”

 

Schwartz’s book argues that governments should legislate  against universities being able to impose ideological litmus tests ( such as DEI statements) on the admission of students or on the hiring of faculty. He lamented the fact that “ Instead, we’re going in the opposite direction where the institution is increasingly geared up in the woke direction that is hostile to the presence of Jews and is hostile to Israel. Schwartz concluded,"The only prospects for the survival of the Jewish people is a return to a society in which people are free to express themselves, and you can actually debate things. And the hope is, as John Adams the second President of the United States stated " that facts are stubborn things which will ultimately prevail in the face of passion and prejudice.” 

 

In the Q and A, Schwartz suggested that non-Jewish professors or administrators are increasingly less likely to stand up for the rights of Jews who believe in Jewish right to self-determination, since they don’t want  to be “lampooned,” and “they want to get their grant money”, such that it is easier to be silent than stand up in support of Jewish faculty and Jewish students who identify with Israel. 

 

Regarding the unjustified claim that Israel is an imperialist state, Schwartz said, "You know what one of the biggest pathologies in the Middle East is? Iranian imperialism...The Iranian imperialism has been very bad for the people of Iran. It’s been very bad for the people of Iraq, where Iran is engaged in a colonial settler project. Hezbollah is a branch plant of Iran. Hezbollah has been devastating to the Lebanese society. Lebanon used to be a pluralistic state…. It was prosperous, it was free. They used to call Beirut the Paris of the Middle East. What has Iran done? What has Hezbollah done to Lebanon? Anybody ever hear a university prof talk about Iranian imperialism or the Iranian project, which is destroy Israel?"

 

Schwartz said that we should be able to live in an environment of free expression, where ideas can be debated. ‘ You should be able to criticize traditional Jewish doctrine and traditional Muslim doctrine and traditional Christian doctrine... we should live in a free society where you can debate that without fear.”
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.